If you happened to be hanging around Venice this week, you probably had the chance to catch a little yearly shindig known as the Venice Film Festival. Little, of course, is a comical understatement considering that Venice is one of the most fabulous film events the old world has to offer, and this year, as usual, they premiered some of the more promising titles produced this year in Latin America. And since you were in Venice, you most definitely heard that one of the more buzzworthy features rounding out the official lineup in this edition was the much-anticipated Venezuelan feature Desde allá (From Afar), by first-time director Lorenzo Vigas.
We say “much-anticipated” because the film is an adaptation of a story by Guillermo Arriaga, the estranged collaborator of Alejandro González Iñárritu who penned Amores Perros and Babel before setting forth on his own ill-fated career as a director. To boot, the film’s production and executive production credits read like a who’s-who of Latin American cinema, with cultural titans like Gabriel Ripstein, Michel Franco, and actor Édgar Ramírez throwing their weight behind the debut feature.
The plot follows an well-off older man with a dark secret who solicits sex from a much younger boy from a rough neighborhood. Along the way, an unexpected intimacy emerges, and as the trailer suggests, knives, police sirens, and gunshots ensue. From the trailer, it’s not hard to see why Arriaga, who is also a producer, is connected so well with Vigas’ vision. In a brief two minutes, we get a sense of the film’s impeccable cinematography, powerful but understated performances, and get more than a few whiffs of Amores Perros in its gritty urban-realist style.
With 2014’s Pelo Malo cleaning house last year on the festival circuit and earning top accolades from international critics, it seems Venezuela is shaping up to be Latin America’s newest arthouse sensation. Now we can go ahead and add Desde Allá to the country’s growing list of international hits. The film picked up a Golden Lion at the festival’s award ceremony this past weekend.